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Meet Me in the Food Court

By Andrew Jenkins in Food on Nov 21, 2006 7:51PM

Takashi Yagihashi cut his culinary teeth right here in Chicago at Yoshi Café and Ambria before moving off to become executive chef at a restaurant outside Detroit. After a short stint in Las Vegas, and after winning the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Midwest 2003, Yagihashi returned to Chicago yesterday with the opening of a noodle stand on the seventh floor of the State Street Macy’s. Contrary to how that may sound (we don’t think Yagihashi has serious financial problems and is slinging noodles to anyone who’ll buy ‘em) this appears to be a well-calculated move for the chef who is scouting West Loop and River North locations for a possible restaurant opening next year.

Yagihashi is one of 15 chefs with membership on Macy’s Culinary Council, a group that provides the department chain with in-store appearances, cooking classes and other foodie stuff. In fact, you’ll be able to find Yagihashi’s noodles right next to Rick Bayless’ express food venture, Frontera Fresco. On a side note, can we suggest that Federated Department Stores Inc. (Macy’s parent company) hold off on firing 200 local Macy’s employees and instead remove Tyler Florence from its culinary council. The guy has signed on with Applebees for crying out loud.

Anyhoo, Yagihashi’s spot serves what he calls “Japanese street food” — including noodles, braised pork, spring rolls and pot stickers. Charlie Trotter told Crain’s Chicago Business that opening a food stand doesn’t diminish a chef’s culinary reputation, which is good since Trotter is looking to open a food stand of his own in Las Vegas next year. Has anyone had the chance to sample Yagihashi’s place yet? How about Frontera Fresco?

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